Sunday Metal – Keel

I was listening to Apple Music’s “Classic Metal” radio and this song came on.

It took me right back to my teenage years, and finally I was able to know who the artist was!

I recall hearing this song a bunch, and I believe I had it on some mix-tape and really loved it. But I never knew who the artist was. But now I know.

Keel.

“Tears of Fire”

(Shut up, BH)

2017-04-21 training log

It was a day.

On Pressing, the top set was the same weight as the “5” week from last cycle. I hit the same reps, which straight-up isn’t progression, but given the work-up was more than last cycle I consider it progress. It’s not a lot of progress, but it’s progress.

I did press the work sets using wrist-wraps, given my experiences and thoughts from a couple days ago (bench pressing day). It actually threw me off some because it does put the bar in a slightly different position and thus the bar path is different. The first set was actually really screwed up because the path was unfamiliar. I don’t feel I NEED wraps on pressing day as press doesn’t seem to cause me issues, but if it is wrist extension issues that put some stress on everything, it isn’t a bad thing.

Overall I felt kinda weaker today, but when I think about it I really wasn’t. I pushed the pressing pretty far, leaving a “maybe 1 more” in the tank, so I just didn’t have a lot left for the rest of the session. But then all “not-pressing” movements I did better on, so I think I was overall stronger, I just pushed hard. Whatever. It was what it was.

Dips are interesting to me. Every time I do them (since I started doing them again), the first couple reps are hard. My body feels unstable and doesn’t like it, taking me the first 2-3 reps to actually find a groove. Unstable, shaky, can’t go all the way down. But then by rep 3-4 I’m going just below parallel. I reckon it’s just from being “tired” and I have to get things into it, but as well the body feels…. loose? Not sure how to really describe it, because I’m not really sure what it is yet. Today I thought about scrapping them, but no, it’s really a sign that I need to keep doing them to suss out what the problem is and get better.

Otherwise, today was… a day. It’s technically cycle 5 so things SHOULD start to get tougher. It is what it is. I felt it was an OK day, just not a great day.

  • Press (superset with pulldowns)
    • bar x whatever
    • 75 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 3
    • 120 x 5
    • 140 x 5
    • 155 x 5
    • 140 x 8
    • 120 x 10
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
  • Dips (superset with shrugs)
    • BW x 8
    • BW x 10
    • BW x 7
  • DB Shrugs
    • 85e x 15
    • 85e x 15
    • 85e x 12
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 30
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 11
  • Skullcrushers
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 8
  • Hammer Curl
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10

2017-04-20 training log

I felt out of groove today, but I’m not sure if it was just the day or the minor change.

The minor change was my deadlift setup. Long ago my setup put my feet and the bar at “the 3rd eyelet” on my shoes. Then some time ago I moved it to the 4th as that felt “more correct” to have the bar in so closer. But today for some reason when I set the bar down after the last rep of the first set, I opted to pause and look down at my feet to see where the bar was — it was at the 2nd eyelet. So I kept working from there. The change was the bar didn’t start as close to my body, but it did go straight up instead of a little out then up (gravity recentering things once the bar broke ground). I think that’s better, but at the heavier weights it felt more like I was starting out of balance, since the bar was a little away from me.

I’ll just keep playing with it.

On hypers, I played around with foot angle. So with my new approach it has the feet pointing outwards at around 45º. For sure I feel it more in my glutes than my hams. I tried straight, and I also tried pointing my feet inwards as much as I could. The more inwards things went, the more I felt it in my hams. Whatever I did, of course both glutes and hams were working, but it was interesting to see how the foot angle did play a part.

Another play around was the leg curls. In the past I’ve tried to keep my feet loose, and then found when things got tougher my body naturally wanted to flex my foot, so I tried to shy away from that because I didn’t want things to become easier. Well, watching a video the other day, apparently flexing the foot takes the calves out of it, so I tried that today. Of course, I was stronger. So… could it be that I’ve been more dealing with my calves and they’ve been a weak point and holding things back on working my hamstrings? Could be. I’m going to keep playing with this as well.

  • Deadlift
    • 170 x 5
    • 215 x 5
    • 260 x 3
    • 280 x 5
    • 325 x 5
    • 365 x 8 (8 rep PR)
    • 325 x 7
    • 280 x 10
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
  • Leg Curls
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12

“But he was unarmed!” – Maybe so, but he could still kill you

It’s a widely held misconception that an “unarmed” person – someone with only their hands, without tools (gun, knife, baseball bat, hammer, 2×4, etc.) – is not dangerous, is not harmful.

Robert A. Margulies, MD, MPH, FACEP speaks with the ACLDN about blunt force trauma lethality.

A blow to the temple area where the skull is relatively thin can actually cause a fracture in that area and tear the underlying artery. This can produce permanent disability, and can cause death.

A blow to the back of the neck can dislocate the spine and cause paralysis or death. These are things that one does not really have to be a trained martial artist to do. Blows to the nose, to the back of the neck, to the throat are examples of “empty hands” that can produce disability or death.

Head and face trauma has an interesting aspect to it. It is not just that somebody has been hit in the face, but bleeding and swelling of tissues can also lead to airway blockages. Bleeding in the mouth can lead to swallowed blood, which is very irritating and can cause vomiting which puts somebody at a disadvantage, but also leads to the risk of aspiration. That is, the vomit is trying to come up and out, and you’re trying to breath in, and you suck some of this stuff down into your lungs. All of these things can become fatal, even though this was just a broken jaw and a little bleeding.

A blow to the ribs can cause injury to the liver or the spleen, both of which, in the vernacular, bleed like stink. Surgery is extremely difficult because the liver and the spleen are not like muscle where you can isolate a blood vessel and get control, they’re spongy and trying to suture is like trying to sew gelatin—it is difficult! It requires a highly trained team to be able to salvage somebody who has a shattered liver or spleen. Spleens can be removed and the patient can survive. Humans do not do well without a liver.

Dr. Margulies continues:

Unequivocally not. I consider hands and feet, knees, elbows and shoulders, to be deadly weapons. Once that first blow is delivered and once you go to the ground, the kick to the head, the knees in the chest, may produce permanent injuries and fatalities. I’m going to give you a reference to an article in the Journal of Head and Face Medicine, published in October 2005 (see http://www.head-face-med.com/content/1/1/7 – B10). One of the comments in it is that as of 2005, we in developed countries have a level of facial injuries caused by interpersonal violence exceeding those from motor vehicle crashes. This is not a new concept or a new problem.

I won’t question the fact that tools enable us to do things more efficiently, more effectively – that’s why we humans are tool creators and tool users. However, the lack of tools does not preclude a human from inflicting deadly harm upon another.

Please understand this.

2017-04-18 training log

Because of my continuing arm/elbow issues, this cycle I’m changing up a few things. And today, while I planned a couple changes, there was also an unplanned change that I think made the biggest difference.

First change is while I’m keeping the 5/3/1 progression, I’m adopting Paul Carter’s rep scheme: 5/4/3/2/1. Then on the top set, it’s 1+. The intention is to keep intensity but reduce volume at higher intensities, which seems to aggravate the pain. Hit a single at the top, and if I’m feeling OK give it a little more – but I don’t have to set a record here, just get SOME work in, whatever I can do with the pain. After that, an AMRAP set plus a 50% set, again to get some volume at a reasonable intensity level, but again here I don’t need to push it to death; mind the pain and don’t make things worse.

Second change was not using elbow sleeves. I started using them when I had my first round of pain because some suggest it helps. Does it help? I don’t know. For sure knee sleeves make my knees happier when I squat and deadlift, but the jury is still out on the elbow sleeves. Part of the answer will lie in working without them for a bit, then with them, then without, and just alternating for a bit to see how things go. The other factor here is I have wondered if the sleeves contribute to the pain, given how they add bulk in the “elbow pit”, so when the elbow angle grows more acute, there’s some lever compression from the sleeve material and it adds additional pressure to the tendons in there. I’ve felt this, but hard to say if the sleeves are causing it or just happen to be there. Still, worth trying without sleeves to see how things go.

I wanted to make a third change: wrist wraps. I generally don’t use them, but I know they add rigidity and stability to the wrist area. Given all that I’ve experienced, I wondered if they might help. But I’m already changing 2 factors, no need to add a third.

But that said, it still came into play.

As I was setting up on my first set, I found myself clenching the bar. I mean, I normally grip the bar, but now I was really crushing it – like a grip where the bar should start to ooze out from between my fingers. Of course, that’s how you SHOULD bench, but it’s something I tend to overlook. But today, I really focused on that, and I think that above all things helped me out. I’ve been noticing how the pain exists, and there’s a lot in my brachioradialis and brachialis. The flexed wrist seems to play into this, given how it causes the muscles and skeletal structure to have to then support things. I also think about how the pain existed when I squated under similar form. It’s making some level of sense here. So the rigid wrist? Helped a bunch.

Now, when I got to 225, my wrists couldn’t support it alone. So yes, I’m thinking always crushing, but bare wrists on the work up, then heavier weights get the wraps. I’ll be curious over the next 2 weeks (3’s week and 1+ week) how it goes.

As for the other two changes, I will continue without sleeves to see how it goes; jury still out. And I do think the reduced reps should help for a bit as well. I should be able to still make progress. Hitting 225×8 today wasn’t a PR by any stretch, but all things considered it’s acceptable.

As for other things…

I am wondering if a bigger part of the problem is rowing. Maybe not rowing directly, but for sure I find myself more irritated after rowing. One thought I have is to stop supersetting pressing with pulling. Yes I know that’s stricter 5/3/1, but I’d rather work pain-free. My thought is to stop supersetting, focus on solid pressing work, which I expect might go better without rowing contributing to arm issues. Then do back work but bump it up a bit. Like right now since I rest so long between sets, I’d be curious if I dropped the weight and rest interval down (e.g. drop 10-20% weight, and no more than 60 seconds between sets). That would bump up the work, but drop the intensity, which may be better for me. I don’t want to change this JUST yet because again so many factors already in flux. But it’s on the brain.

DB benching I am trying to change slightly as well. I found I was keeping the DB’s closer to each other, which was a nice range of motion, but then a more acute elbow angle in the bottom position and pain, stability, etc.. So now I’m keeping them further out, with the outer edge of the DB touching the outer edge of my pec — keep the DB’s fully outside the body. That seemed to help, but of course weight and reps had to go down due to the leverage change, but that’s fine.

Kroc rows stopped short, just irritation.

Other things were what they were, but the one notable change was instead of normal BB curls I switched to reverse curls. Again, if my issues are with brachioradialis and brachialis, might as well work to get more blood into the area AND do some more direct work to strengthen them.

We’ll see how this plays out over the coming weeks.

  • Bench Press (superset cable rows)
    • bar x whatever
    • 105 x 5
    • 130 x 4
    • 160 x 3
    • 170 x 2
    • 200 x 1
    • 225 x 8
    • 170 x 15 (AMRAP)
    • 170 x 5 (50%)
  • Cable Rows
    • 105 x 12
    • 115 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
  • DB Bench Press (superset with Kroc rows)
    • 75e x 10
    • 75e x 8
    • 75e x 8
  • Kroc Row
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 15
  • DB Upright Row
    • 30e x 15
    • 30e x 15
    • 30e x 15
  • Overhead Rope Extensions
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 11
  • EZ Bar Reverse Curl
    • 45 x 15
    • 45 x 15
    • 45 x 15

Beyond the 1% – ProArms Podcast

My bossman, Karl Rehn of KR Training, was interviewed for Episode 98 of the ProArms Podcast.

It was about his presentation, “Beyond the One Percent” (8 part series starts here).

Give it a listen!

 

2017-04-17 training log

Another cycle begins. This is technically cycle 5, since resetting. Things seem to be progressing well. Today was a couple interesting mental milestones.

First, 300’s. Today was the first time of hitting 300’s during my “light” day. No more flirting in the 300’s, where maybe I do 1 or 2 sets in the 300’s during a cycle. No, this is the light day and I’m 300’s. So for whatever reason, it still messes with my head a bit, but I can easily put it out because I know I won’t have any problems. I mean, if I’m scheduled for 300 today, hitting at least 5 reps should be easy, right?

I hit 7 reps, which is a rep PR at that weight, so that’s cool. I had at least one left in the tank, and was good with that as that’s where it should be. I look at charts and progression, where a theoretical 1RM is (375 or so), and that’s pretty darn cool to me, to see this sort of progression after so long. I feel confident that by the end of the year the goal of 405 is attainable. So 300’s don’t really mess with me much; at this point it’s just cool to be finally in the 300’s. 🙂

Second, 230. 230# is an interesting number for me, especially on squats, because way back when I was starting and doing Starting Strength I had worked up to 230 and plateaued there for quite a while. It was a confounding number for me because I worked and worked and couldn’t bust through. I also know that while it was 230, it was a terrible 230. Horrible form, probably cut dept short. Just poor. But now? It’s just a warm-up weight. Now? After PR’ing at 300×7, I’m doing 3×5 pause squats with that weight. So, any time I have 230 it’s always a step back for me, to remember how things were, and to see how far I’ve come. And yes, that I still have a ways to go. But, just keep at it.

So all in all, good day. Rep PR, pause squats went well. Lunges took a bunch out of me because I took very long strides. But all good work put in.

Oh, there was one point of concern/interest. During pause squats I noticed when I came out of the hole my right leg would… it’s hard to describe, but instead of the leg extending straight, there was a sort of outward “push”. Basically instead of straight forces extending, some lateral forces. Basically this could be a knee-blowout in the making. I don’t know how long I’ve been doing this, but I did notice it and once I did worked to ensure “straighter” forces on extension. I will have to keep an eye on this.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 140 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 210 x 3
    • 230 x 5
    • 265 x 5
    • 300 x 7 (7 rep PR)
  • Pause Squat
    • 230 x 5
    • 230 x 5
    • 230 x 5
  • Lunges
    • BW x 12e
    • BW x 12e
    • BW x 10e
    • BW x 9e
  • Leg Extensions
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 10

Sunday Metal – Crowbar

Another fairly recent release that I’ve been digging: Crowbar “The Serpent Only Lies”

Here’s the title track:

It’s day after day
The fight to rise and win
Conquer it all
It’s day after day
The fight to rise and win
Conquer it all
Don’t let your soul descend,

Being reluctant to shoot, but eager to know

On April 1, 2017, KR Training ran it’s Defensive Pistol Skills 1 and Defensive Pistol Skills 2 classes. It may have been April Fools Day, but what I want to talk about is no joke.

These particular classes are about gunfighting. These are classes were we work to impress upon students the reality of self-defense with a handgun. It’s fast, it’s ugly, it’s full of pressure. You have to perform at a high-level, usually starting from a deficit, and you must make split-second decisions (these classes are often a sobering reality and wake-up to students).

It’s that last part – split-second decisions – I want to talk about.

Context

Let me explain the context of class.

In DPS-2, we run each student through a shoot house scenario. The intent of the exercise is to introduce students to the notions of moving through structures, use of cover and concealment, and target discernment.

Target discernment.

You see, upon our hip we have a hammer – but we must realize that the world contains more than nails. What complicates matters is some things may appear to be nails, but really are not. Furthermore, we are “good guys”; which means we operate within the constraints of the law, both the laws of men and the laws of morality.

In terms of a curriculum progression, certainly it makes sense to first teach people general marksmanship as well as basic default response to a threat; you have to teach foundational and fundamental skills first. Once people begin to understand the fundamentals, you progress to more complex, complicated, and advanced concepts. One of those is target discernment.

Setting

In this particular run of the shoot house, the situation was framed that you have pulled up to your home in your car and parked in the driveway. You get out of your car and you see… this. The “this” starts out with 2 targets across from you: one is a reactive target (i.e. if you shoot it properly it will fall down) with a threat indicator (a gun), the other is a reactive target with a not-threat indicator (hands up). The student begins by analyzing what they see and responding accordingly.

The student is then to move “into the house”. As they approach the opening, they see way down the hallway – about 15-20 yards away – this target:

When you look at this picture from the comfort of your office or living room, with no pressure, no need to make a decision, as you casually read this article, you can probably figure out what it is that you are seeing.

But when it’s 15-20 yards away, when you have a split second to make a decision, when you are under pressure, it’s not so clear.

Discernment – is this a threat or not – is difficult. Just because it is difficult, doesn’t mean it isn’t important; in fact, it means we need to work harder at it.

Reactions

With about a dozen students in class, responses were wide and varied.

Some people immediately extended their gun and shot.

Some people started to extend their gun, but realized they weren’t sure what they were looking at. (some thought “a grenade?”)

Some people stepped aside (out of line of sight, behind cover/concealment).

Some immediately questioned what they saw.

Some where not sure what they saw and what to do.

From there, responses continued typically with my interaction (i.e. me playing the part of either a “narrator” or role-playing the target).

Of those who wondered or weren’t sure what they were seeing, I asked them what they thought they should do. The basic idea? If you don’t know what it is, work to gain more information so you can become more certain about what it is. Some people wanted to get closer, and while that’s an understandable reaction, it’s not necessarily the safest tactics. What else could they do? They could shout commands, like “DROP IT!” If they did this, I roled-played the target and he dropped it. Of course, another solid response is “don’t go in the house at all; back out and call the police” (that’s really the best general response, but for purposes of the exercise we continue forward).

Of those that were quick to go to guns, I asked them why they did so. Some said “he was in my house”. One gentleman didn’t have his contacts in and wasn’t totally sure what he was looking at, but the general appearance and context was enough for him to perceive a threat. Generally afterwards, showing them what the target actually was caused a bit of reconsideration.

What’s key here is how people perceived the (total) situation, how they assessed threat, and how they chose to respond.

Response

I’m not going to fault any student for whatever their response was. This is class. This is the place to come to make mistakes, to learn, to become better. One of the hallmarks of training is how it provides a forgiving learning ground to learn what to do and what not to do, so when you actually have to do something in the unforgiving real-world, you can do it better and minimize chances of doing it wrong (and risk making things worse).

There’s a few take-homes here.

First, realize how situations can unfold. This scenario started with a context of “trouble”, so human nature is going to expect trouble to continue. When you see something else that’s abnormal – in this case, a strange person supposedly within your home thrusting an object towards you – when a split-second decision needs to be made, we process the situation based upon what information we have.

Take for example a recently released dashcam of an Opelika, Alabama police officer shooting a man on the side of the road in 2014. Every police officer knows that road-side stops are one of the most dangerous events in police work. It’s dark. Pull up on scene, man goes to exit his vehicle. As he exits, he turns towards the officer, something dark in his hands, and he clasps his hands together.

As the situation is unfolding, what might that officer be thinking?

Here’s a freeze-frame from 0:23 into the video. What does that look like?

If you are someone educated in violent behavior (as police tend to be), that certainly looks like someone holding a gun, preparing to extend their arms to shoot. And not just shoot, but shoot at me.

It’s only in hindsight, it’s only with the benefit of sitting in our armchairs, that we can speak otherwise about this event. You can watch the full dashcam here.

I’m making no commentary on that specific event. What I am trying to point out is how there is reality in situations, how they frame events in our minds, and then how it affects our perceptions, especially in the seconds as events unfold. As well, simple objects that aren’t a weapon may not be so obviously-not-a-weapon as situations are unfolding.

We must work to be certain, or as certain as we can be.

Second, rid yourself of absolute mindsets. By that I mean mindsets like “if they’re in my house, they’re getting shot”. I hear this expressed far too often, with people proudly exclaiming how any unknown person in their house is getting shot, no questions, no discerement, no nothing. This is a recipe for trouble.

Claude Werner speaks of Negative Outcomes.  For example:

Deputies found a 32-year-old man who said that he and his wife were sleeping when they heard a noise in the kitchen.

The husband took his handgun and walked in the kitchen area, where he shot the victim.

After the shooting the husband recognized the victim as his younger teenage brother.

Full story, and Claude’s analysis can be found here.

Something as simple as shouting “Who’s there?” could have prevented tragedy.

(Aside: I highly recommend reading anything and everything Claude writes; if you need a place to start, start with his series on Negative Outcomes).

Think

There’s a time to go to guns, and there’s a lot of times not to. Even if we don’t shoot, pointing a gun at someone is aggravated assault. I’m not saying not to point guns at people when that needs to happen, but we need to be as certain as we can that it actually needs to happen. Because whatever happens, it’s likely it will become necessary for you to articulate why you did what you did. To be able to validly express the ability, the opportunity, the jeopardy of the situation.

At this point in one’s training, one must learn discernment. One needs to move beyond the simple physical skills of “point and click” and work to first engage the brain. In a sense, we should be reluctant to go to guns, but we should be eager to acquire the knowledge necessary to know if we should go to guns – or not.

Because in an instant, what will happen will happen and you cannot take it back.

2017-04-14 training log

Deload.

  • Press (superset with pulldowns)
    • bar x whatever
    • 70 x 5
    • 70 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 5
    • 110 x 5
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
  • Dips (superset with shrugs)
    • BW x 8
    • BW x 8
  • DB Shrugs
    • 80e x 15
    • 80e x 15
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 15
  • Skullcrushers
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
  • Hammer Curl
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10